Slovakia’s Barbora Ziackova is an important figure in the music scene, not only because of the awesome music she is capable of pumping out (as proven on her latest release, Enigma). Much like Tosin Abasi has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that yes, a black man can outshine most of the other guitarists and composers he calls contemporaries in metal, Barbora shows that so, too can a woman.
Enigma is so chock-full of tasty licks and transitions that it’s hard to know where to begin when describing it, but let me make one thing very clear: this is not moshpit metal. This is music so rife with influences from other genres that it’s almost silly to even call it metal at all. More importantly, it’s full of raw emotion. With the help of bassist Edwin Jack-Chapman and drummer James Wise – both exemplary players who stand out almost as much as Barbora does – Enigma plays as a bare-all tale of hope, joy, confusion, anger, sadness, and everything in between. It’s an instrumental album that truly sings.
An influence that continually springs to mind while listening through this gem is Opeth, particularly their 2005 prog-metal masterpiece Ghost Reveries. Opening track “Cryptology” does a good job recalling “Beneath the Mire.” The haunting title track, the only one here with actual vocals provided by Will Howard, is reminiscent of “Hours of Wealth.” These are not accusations of musical theft; both albums are entirely their own entity. This is recognition that one master paid subtle homage to another, in this case Ziackova to Akerfeldt.
John Petrucci’s mark is also present here, in moments of Dream Theater’s and Liquid Tension Experiment’s off color licks and mind-numbing spider riffs can be heard throughout the album. Make no mistake though, this is very much Ziackova’s brainchild, and her sound is unique to her. I really can’t think of anything bad to say here, and I highly recommended this album for any fan of progressive music.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson